Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bitter melon (gourd) extract inhibits breast cancer cell proliferation.....

Momordica charantia (picture, source : wikipedia) is a tropical  and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown for edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all vegetables. English names for the plant and its fruit include bitter melon or bitter gourd.  Extract of this vegetable is being popularized as a dietary supplement in Western Countries, since it is known to contain additional glycosides such as mormordin, vitamin C, carotenoids, flavanoids and polyphenols.

Momordica charantia has a non-nitrogenous neutral principle charantin (see structure  an insulin-like chemical that can lower blood sugar and cholesterol), and on hydrolysis gives glucose and a sterol.

Now researchers from Saint Louis University, have come up with an in interesting finding, i.e., bitter melon extract, a common dietary supplement, exerts a significant effect against breast cancer cell growth and may eventually become a chemopreventive agent against this form of cancer.

Previous research has shown Momordica charantia, to have hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects. Because of these effects, the extract is commonly used in folk medicines as a remedy for diabetes in locales such as India, China and Central America, as per  the claim by  researchers.

Using human breast cancer cells and primary human mammary epithelial cells in vitro, Dr. Ratna  Ray (Professor in the Department of Pathology at Saint Louis University) and colleagues found the bitter melon extract significantly decreased proliferation, of cell growth and division, and induced death in breast cancer cells. These early results offer an encouraging path for research into breast cancer. Researchers claim that, "this study may provide us with one more agent as an extract that could be used against breast cancer if additional studies hold true". 

Ray and colleagues are currently conducting follow-up studies using a number of cancer cell lines to examine the anti proliferative effect of the extract. They are also planning a preclinical trial to evaluate its chemopreventive efficacy by oral administration. Hope they come up with positive results.......

Ref : Dr. Ratna Ray, Cancer Research, 10.1158/0008-5472, February 23, 2010.

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